Three Tips for Developing a Buyer Centric Demand Generation Strategy

We’ve all heard and preached (guilty!) about Buyer Centric Demand Generation ad nausuem. Now that we all understand it, we believe it and we want it – how do we get it? In today’s post instead of waxing poetic about theory – let’s get practical. The following are three tips for developing a truly Buyer Centric Demand Generation Strategy.

1)     Start with data driven insights for your Buyers.

Before you determine your content model, before you design your flow diagram for the marketing automation platform, before you create a lead management or lead scoring model – you need the information that will be the blueprint on which all program level decisions are made. You need data-driven Buyer Insights.

Generally speaking, you need about five key insights for a well-rounded program. The first insight is based on market and industry trends. You’ll use that information to develop high-level conversation threads with your Buyer. The second insight is based on your customers buying cycle. This outline will inform the dialogue thread for your content marketing model that populates your perpetual nurture programs. In other words, this is the information that Buyers need have in order to move from one buying stage to the next. In addition, you’ll identify where the natural hand-off to sales occurs and start to define what a qualified lead means to your organization. The third insight is about pain points for the personas. Here is where you will discover what ‘keeps them up at night’ as well as the context of their world beyond what you’re selling – very important. The fourth insight is around content consumption patterns. You’ll use this information to determine content format preferences, email cadence, as well as inbound marketing models and offline program elements. The last insight is more of a value-added wild card, typically something you discover through the research and analysis process – a gap in knowledge or resources that your Buyer needs and wants but they are not finding it anywhere else today.

All of those insights are used to develop the pieces of a holistic demand generation program. Using data-driven program insights assure you’ll have the right content at the right time, in the right place for your Buyers to develop an authentic conversation.

2)     Make sure the Buyer research that informs your Buyer Insight is well balanced.

Ideally, your research should be composed of three parts. I reference thirds in this section, but that is just an estimate – your percentage mix will vary – the important thing is that your insights are not one-sided.

One third will come from your organization. Find out what information is already available. Break down those silos and gather information from all parties familiar with your Buyer. What do you already know?

The next third will be primary research conducted through interviews. A good place to start is to develop a list of questions that align to the insights you are creating. Really get curious about your Buyers. Then interview internal stakeholders such as your sales team, product managers and anyone else customer-facing. Find out the ideal customer profile and start to sketch out a preliminary buying cycle.

Then using the information gleaned from your first round of interviews – talk to your Buyers. Learn about their buying process, who else is involved and what information they are most in need of at the different points of their journey. What helps? What hurts? What does the rest of their world look like? Clarify any points or questions you have – get the answers you need from the source. Be sure and get enough interviews – you need a representative sample. After conducting a number of them, you’ll begin to hear recurring themes – that’s a clue you’ve got a good sample. Short on Buyers to interview? Look to your network – primary research is integral and cannot be overlooked.

The last third is your secondary research. Find analyst reports, market reports, and industry reports all relating to your Buyer. Look for articles, news, and thought leadership blogs – all of which are helpful to understanding your Buyer, as well as topics and information that interest them. Include trade publications, associations and events in the mix. LinkedIn groups, communities as well as social media provide interesting data points that may inform your insights as well.

Now you’ve got the data and its time to turn your research into usable information, aka a Buyer Insight. I find it is useful to ask yourself this question while reviewing – “What does this mean for my demand generation program? How could I use this inform content decisions, lead management, etc.?” Extract the valuable pieces and organize them into insights to share with your stakeholders.

3)     Suspend beliefs and keep and open mind during the Buyer Insight development phase.

During this process you will probably come across information that challenges the way you do things today. Try not to focus too much on that; seriously, there will be plenty of time for poking holes. Technology and other limitations will be waiting for you, I promise. You don’t want to get stuck in designing around your limits and not your Buyer. So proceed with caution. A program that works perfectly but doesn’t resonate doesn’t serve its purpose. After being focused on products for a long time, it will be difficult to break out of the “we can’t because…” point-of-view which leads to certain death for any Buyer centric program. Don’t do it yourself and gently remind colleagues to suspend judgment during the development phase. This is about your Buyer – not your bias or your company’s bias. Simply doing what you’ve always done is not going to cut it in this scenario so keep your mind open and the conversation going.  

Hopefully this post provided you a fresh take on a few ideas of your own. If you want to learn more about developing Buyer Centric Demand Generation programs, I highly suggest reading “Balancing the Demand Equation” by Adam B. Needles, CSO at ANNUITAS.  Let me know if this was helpful or if you are interested in more blog posts like this.

Author: Erin Kelley  @MsErinKelley VP of Strategy, ANNUITAS

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